How Long Does It Take to Notice the Effects of an Air Purifier?

Considering the growing concerns about indoor air pollution, many people have turned to air purifiers for help. These devices are supposed to remove pollutants from the air, providing a fresher and healthier breathing environment. Since each air purifier model works differently and, in the background, how long does it take to notice an air purifier’s effects?

The time it takes to notice the effects of an air purifier is more subjective than objective. However, you can estimate how long an air purifier takes to work and use that as a criterion to watch for the effects. An air purifier takes between 45 minutes to three hours to clean most of the air in a room.

This article discusses how long air purifiers take to work and how long it takes to notice an air purifier’s effects. I also explore whether you can immediately notice a difference with an air purifier.

How Long Do Air Purifiers Take to Work?

Air purifiers are one of the most capable devices for cleaning up the air in your home. They suck in unclean air, remove pollutants, and recirculate clean air with a fan and filter or multiple filters. 

The practical application of air purifiers doesn’t erase the fact that you can’t see or touch the results of their work. The pollutants in your air are mainly invisible to the naked eye, just like indoor air quality. Yeah, you can smell a difference, but what if you can’t?

How do you gauge how long it takes to get the job done? Firstly, a manufacturer may state how long an air purifier takes to work on the packaging. Some may claim that their device can exchange the air in a room in 30 minutes.

However, this is pretty unrealistic because your home isn’t a replica of the controlled test environment they used to get that specification. Your filter may not be brand new, and you may have placed it behind a furniture piece.

So, a more realistic work duration is within the first 45 minutes to three hours. Your air purifier starts working once you plug it into a power source and turn it on.

However, there are factors (as usual) that affect how it works, how fast it works, and when it finishes. Check out a description of these factors below:

Room size: Most air purifiers have a limitation on how fast and effective their work is, based on a room’s size. If your room is small, the device will work within the specified time frame. If your room is larger than what it can handle, it’ll work for longer, and you’ll see results a little later.

Pollution level: The number of contaminants in the air determines whether it’ll take a few minutes or a whole day to clean the space. This also depends on the particle sizes and the mix of pollutants—gasses, microorganisms, allergens, etc.

The power setting: Most devices have three power settings, but manufacturers market them using the highest. So, if you use a lower setting, the work duration may be longer than what you expect from the information on the pack.

The speed and distance the air purifier cleans: ACH (air changes per hour) is a significant number that tells you how many cycles it’ll take to purify the same air in an hour. A good amount is four to five changes per hour, meaning the same air must go through a cycle every 12 to 15 minutes.

The CADR (clean air delivery rate) rating tells you the volume of air the purifier can move to clean 80% of the pollutants. Both the ACH and CADR are excellent indicators of how fast and how far an air purifier works.

The type of filter and location of the cleaner are also factors affecting how long it takes to work. You need to run the device 24/7 to get maximum results.

How Long Does It Take to Notice the Effects of an Air Purifier?

For an air purifier’s effects, you’ll notice what you expect to see. Maybe you bought an air purifier to eliminate odors or allergens. You’d have to look out for a cessation of the smell or a reduction of allergy symptoms, as its effects.

An air purifier will produce effects as it works, but it may take some time to notice the changes. The factors that affect how long the cleaner works also affect how long it takes to notice the changes in air quality. These factors include:

  • The size of the room.
  • The source of pollution.
  • The air purifier’s motor power.
  • The sizes and types of particles the purifier can trap, etc.

Effects like improved air quality are noticeable as quickly as 30 minutes into a working air purifier. So if you’re expecting a decrease in foul odor, it might happen in a day or more. 

How to Test an Air Purifier’s Effectiveness

Sometimes, you don’t feel the effects of your air purifier, and you might wonder if it’s working. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who’s giving your purifier a stinky eye. Thankfully, there are ways to test an air purifier’s effectiveness. 

There are methods specific to portable and whole-home air purifiers, respectively, and those that work for both purification systems:

For Portable Purifiers

Test the Airflow

Clear, consistent airflow is a feature of a working purifier. The air purifier’s fan should blow out air clearly, and if it doesn’t, then something’s wrong. You can place your hand in front of the unit’s outlet or listen for the fan’s sound. If you feel or hear nothing, it’s a sign that the air purifier is not working. 

Likewise, too much noise coming from the device, or if it seems to exert intense effort to blow air, that’s also an issue. A perfect working condition is somewhere in the middle of no sound and too much noise.

Test the Filter

This involves checking the condition of the air purifier’s internal filters. A dirty or full filter shows the device is working. It means that air is entering the device normally, and the filter is trapping pollutants before the purifier releases clean air. 

However, it’s essential to change or clean dirty or clogged filters. Your air purifier will find it difficult to push air through a full filter, limiting its work efficiency.

For whole-home purifiers

The variations on test procedures for these units extend to the types of whole-home purifiers. While a filter test will work for a whole-home media air filter, photocatalytic oxidation (PECO) and bipolar ionization purifiers need unique tests. 

The Odor Test

The most effective whole-house air purifiers target particulates, germs, and gasses, including odors. You need to introduce a horrible smell into the space for this test. You can burn potent incense or cook the smelliest dish you know. Then, turn on the HVAC system fan and track the odor removal. 

If the odor dissipates as the system runs, the air purifier works. If the smell remains, you’d have to call a maintenance specialist while hoping not to choke from the odors.

The Airflow Test

This one will be quite different from how you test portable air purifiers. You’re looking to see a healthy airflow balance in the home. Purification depends on excellent circulation because the air purifier system installs into the HVAC system directly and works with the existing ductwork.

The Dust Test

A selling point of whole-home air purifiers is that you install them in one place, but they clean the air throughout the house. Consequently, less dust within the home is a noticeable change and proof that the air purifier is working.

Using an indoor air quality monitor or having a professional test the indoor air quality (IAQ) are excellent methods for both systems. Since all purifiers aim to improve IAQ, a change for the better means the system is working—portable or whole-house.

A good cautionary note to remember is that no purifier will work precisely as it says on the packaging. The tests manufacturers put the purifier through often happen in controlled environments. 

They may or may not factor in variables native to real-life situations, like open windows or a constant pollution source. So, essentially, take that “99% effectiveness” with two pinches of salt.

Can You Immediately Notice a Difference with an Air Purifier?

It’s not possible to immediately notice a difference with an air purifier. This is because air purifiers aren’t like magic wands that you wave and get an instantaneous change. Instead, they work in specific processes, and these processes take time.

For one, no air purifier sucks in all the air in a room at once for purification. Instead, it cycles a volume of air per minute, releasing the clean air to mix with the unclean air in the room. For every cleaning cycle, an air purifier works through a mix of clean and contaminated air.

The good news is, as more clean air replaces unclean air, you notice a change in the air quality. The musty or smoke smell reduces; you can no longer smell the dust in the air and see that you’re sneezing less.

As mentioned earlier, an air purifier takes between 45 minutes to three hours to produce tangible effects in a space. However, you can notice (see or smell) its effects in 20 minutes or two days, depending on the purifier’s strength.

Air purification is a continuous process, and the more you run your air purifier, the more it’ll produce noticeable and consistent results.